The effective management of organisations requires a streamlined supply chain and operations management. Supply chain management majors on the efficient movement of information, goods, and services in a bid to deliver optimum value to the consumers. Operations management concentrates on the organisations’ supply of goods or services to the consumers and the transformation of inputs into desirable outputs (Hugos 2011). In this regard, understanding the process of supply chain management requires an in-depth exploration of the transformational processes that depict the operations management of an organisation (Christopher 2011). This paper will explain the functions of operations management and the various types of processes that enhance the conversion and supply of information, goods, and services to consumers.
The core and support functions of operations management
The transformation and supply of information, goods, and services to the consumers require the efficient management of processes in the various departments of an organisation. Therefore, understanding the core and supplementary functions of operations management is essential. The core functions of operations management are concentrated on the planning, controlling, and organising the courses involved in the modification of inputs into outputs (Krawjeski, Ritzman & Malhotra 2012). In this regard, managers play their roles in ensuring smooth operations in various departments where product planning and equipment designing takes place. Marketing the converted outputs then follows to reach the intended consumers, whereby the process of delivery of the outputs to the retail outlets is facilitated after completing the designing process.
Additionally, operations management plays some supportive functions in an organisation. It facilitates the interdependence with other critical business functions as the recruitment of employees, management of finances, and the general improvement of processes in various departments. Operations management facilitates discussions with the human resource department to enhance training and staffing for development purposes. Similarly, discussions with the accounting and finance department are improved whereby the financial requirements for given processes are provided (Schroeder, Rungtusanatham & Goldstein 2012).
Types of the production process of material
Different production processes depend on the standardisation needs, output volume, cost structure, or production flexibility of the goods and services that a company offers to the consumers (Russell & Taylor 2013). The aspects of the materials, which are intended to be produced, should be considered.
Production processes that involve projects lead to the output of a structure. The production process can be duplicated through the modification of other similar projects to arrive at more than one deliverable (Russell & Taylor 2013). An example of a project production process is the construction of a commercial building.
Jobbing entails the production of many products through the creation of small batches. Jobbing is characterised by the customisation of products, and thus it involves different steps, hence the time of production is not constant (Obi 2013). An example is the production of customised wedding cakes.
Batching entails the production of a particular product in the form of periodic batches. The production process follows the same flow, but the batch shops are engaged in the production of different items. Batching requires a setup time that enhances the preparation of inputs or resources for the facilitation of the process in the manufacture of various types of products (Obi 2013).
The continuous production processes entail the repeated conversion of raw materials into the final products. In this production system, the processes are normally machine-driven, which means human involvement is minimal, and thus the process becomes indiscrete. Continuous transformation processes usually run on a 24/7 basis for starting and stopping the system is difficult (Stephens & Meyers 2013). Examples include refineries, chemical plants, and electric generation plants.
Mass lines involve the production processes of discrete parts at regulated rates through the guidance of well-structured procedures. The mass lines move the parts to the inputs whereby each input fulfils its task before proceeding to the next step. Each process in the production phase covers the same time through a balanced production line (Mentzer, Stank & Esper 2008).
Forms of production layouts
According to Greene (2011), the configuration of production equipment, departments, and workstations to facilitate the movement of goods, services, or processes constitutes the production layout. The typical production layouts include product, process, cell, and fixed position layouts (Greene 2011). Process layout entails the grouping of equipment that performs the same task in the operations process in one area. The production of goods occurs in batches with a limitation on the production volume. The production of a wide variety of items can be created in the same plant (Loader 2006).
Loader (2006, p. 74) adds that product layouts are normally ‘found in flow shops that produce huge volumes of standardised products in a continuous process’. The sequential and continuous processes involved in the product layout allow the entire process of production to be in the form of a straight line (Shaaban & Hudson 2010). Loader (2006, p. 75) posits that the ‘two types of product layouts that facilitate the process include paced and un-paced lines’. Paced lines allow employees to work on products in a continuous process as items are conveyed, while un-paced lines entail queuing to wait for the products before working on them (Panneerselvam 2012).
Fixed-position layout is suitable for the production of a product that is huge or heavy to facilitate its movement. The transportation cost for such products is usually high, and thus cutting the costs is essential for such items. Only the equipment remains fixed while workers, machines, and other resources move (Rosing, Rosing & Scheer 2014). A good example of this layout is the manufacture of battleships.
Rosing, Rosing, and Scheer (2014, p. 101) hold that cellular layout ‘entails the grouping of machines according to the requirements of a particular process involving the production of similar goods in an interchangeable procedure’. The application of the group technology (GT) facilitates the grouping of processes into cells in a layout designed to enhance cellular manufacturing. The cellular layout is an integration of process and product layout (Khanna 2013).
Types of the process in technology
Process technology employs various methods such as product and service design, forecasting, selection of the layout, equipment, resources, and work design. The different types of process technology include material, process, and people processing technologies.
Material process technology
The material process technology involves the transformation of industrial materials from their raw-material form to finished products through a series of operations. The application of various technologies in the process is essential for the sophistication of the processes to attain efficiency (Davenport 2013). The application of Computer Numerical Control (CNC) utilises the application of computers to control machines in the manufacturing process. Machines that can apply the CNC technology include grinders, mills, lathes, and routers. Software installed in the computers enhances the operations of the machines for the transformational manufacturing processes (Dyche 2015).
Robotic Process Automation is another material process technology, which applies technology that configures the software to act as ‘robots’ for the facilitation of transactions, data manipulation, and communication with other technological gadgets and systems. Automated guided vehicles involve the use of fully automated transportation processes that do not require human to drive them in the production process. Flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) and computer integrated manufacturing processes are additional manufacturing processes that facilitate the production of goods and services in the different industries (Westerman, Bonnet & McAfee 2014).
Information processing technology
The information processing technology entails the integration of equipment, procedures, and software developed to collect and process information before responding to commands. This aspect is enhanced through the guidance of pre-determined decision-making procedures, rules, or models to present the collected data in a form that is tailored to fulfil the consumers’ needs. The use of LAN (Local Area Networks) entails spamming of a small area using a computer network.
LAN facilitates the processing of information through the connection of various computer devices to enhance communication. The Internet facilitates the transformation of information through the collection, storage, and processing of data for the delivery of information, knowledge, and digital products. Westerman, Bonnet, and McAfee (2014, p. 182) argue that the ‘application of e-business is another form of information processing technology that applies information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance the operations of a business entity’.
People processing technology
Technological advancements in the 21st Century have enhanced the processing of operations in the movement of people. This aspect has been characterised by various processes that facilitate easier operations involving the movement of individuals from one point to another. The in-flight entertainment (IFE) is a people-processing technology that facilitates the provision of entertainment services in an aircraft. IFE entails processes that facilitate the delivery of foods and drinks, the placement of screens for watching movies and other films, and personal audio player systems that facilitate entertainment (Brynjolfsson & McAfee 2014).
Mobile walkways or travellators are conveyor systems that move slowly to transport people on an inclined plane or a horizontal surface over a medium period. The moving walkways are usually placed in opposite directions where people walk or stand on them (Bartelt 2010). Barcode scanners are electronic gadgets that have the capability of reading barcodes and display the information on a computer. Barcode scanners involve the conversion of optical impulses into electrical forms. The Electronic Point of Sales technology (EPOS) provides a quick and effective way of dealing with customers. The EPOS technology facilitates the handling of sales’ calculations and issuing receipts. The systems integrate the credit payment systems to facilitate transactions and store the history of the customers’ transactions (Lamb 2013).
Operations management entails the conversion of raw materials into finished products that satisfy the needs of the consumers. The field enhances the activities of an organisation by facilitating core and supporting functions in various departments. The various types of production processes facilitate the layout of a production plant by considering aspects such as the nature of the product and the cost of production. Technological advancements have enhanced the processing of people, information, and materials. Therefore, operations management plays a significant role in the transformation of resources into results that serve consumer needs.
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